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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 8
Todd Gray
October 26, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy WR ’s To Own Comment
1 PHI Terrell Owens No one has been able to slow the McNabb-Owens connection, but the next month or so brings arguably the toughest stretch of defenses the Eagles will face in the regular season. It all starts with a home date against Baltimore this Sunday before trips to Pittsburgh and Dallas.
2 MIN Randy Moss It’s hard to feel too sorry for the Moss owners who left him in their lineups on Sunday. Not to worry, said owners, he should be close to 100 percent in Week 8 at home against the Giants.
3 GB Javon Walker Walker is the only receiver who is even close to producing at the level of Owens and Moss, and who has in fact slightly outproduced Moss this season. A huge game on Sunday (8 catches, 129 yards, TD) dispelled any notions of nagging injuries affecting his performance.
4 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson has had a couple of weeks to nurse his sore ankle and should be in top form for the Texans’ Week 8 home game against Jacksonville. Expect big things from him until proven otherwise.
5 STL Torry Holt Sunday’s performance (1 catch, 4 yards) may have been something of an anomaly, but it was horrifying to Holt owners all the same. Still, he was covered like a blanket by the Dolphins all day – a situation as unlikely as any to reward fantasy owners.
6 NO Joe Horn Horn turned in another fine performance before heading into this week’s bye. He’s caught fewer than six passes in only one game this season and leads the NFL with 47 receptions. He’ll be back in Week 9 against San Diego’s generous pass defense.
7 IND Marvin Harrison Sunday’s performance was a breath of fresh air for Harrison owners. He did bang up his shoulder in the loss, but it didn’t keep him out of the game. The next three weeks offer grand feasting as the Colts play at Kansas City before hosting Minnesota and Houston.
8 PIT Hines Ward Home games against New England and Philadelphia in Weeks 8 & 9 set the stage for Ward to do what he does best – make the clutch plays. He’s due for a score, no doubt, having not turned in a TD since Week 3.
9 TEN Derrick Mason Mason’s grip on a Top 10 ranking grows more tenuous by the week. He’s producing as much as any Titan, relatively speaking, but these Titans have some serious issues that wreak havoc on fantasy scoring columns. If this week’s home game against Cincinnati doesn’t help, it’s hard to say what will.
10 MIN Marcus Robinson Robinson could arguably be ranked higher as he’s been the most productive fantasy WR over the past month with “only” 215 yards but a league-high five TDs. He’s become a red zone favorite for QB Daunte Culpepper, but with Moss returning to health and expected to be more involved near the goal line, Robinson will be hard-pressed to maintain this pace.

(Note – this listing considers the rankings of WR ’s if a draft was held today)

Climbing The Ladder

Keenan McCardell (SD) – It’s not as if fantasy owners can place their team’s fortunes on the shoulders of this 13-year veteran, but he did show enough in his first game with the Chargers (5 catches, 65 yards) to merit strong fantasy consideration. McCardell was thrown to a team-high nine times in Week 7 and immediately became the Chargers’ No. 1 WR after being acquired last week to replace former No. 1 WR Reche Caldwell (knee). The Chargers have thus far fielded a surprisingly efficient offense, and 70 yards a game and an occasional score shouldn’t be too much to ask from McCardell, especially the next couple of weeks when the Chargers host Oakland and New Orleans.

Jimmy Smith (JAC) – Smith’s stock is rising in direct proportion to the emergence of QB Byron Leftwich. In the season’s first three weeks with the Jags’ young QB struggling, Smith accumulated 10 catches, 210 yards and zero TDs. Over the past three weeks with Leftwich blossoming, Smith has tallied 20 catches, 317 yards and a touchdown. The TDs remain a little light, but with Leftwich throwing for almost two scores a game these days and with an upcoming schedule that appears to favor such production, Smith should have his opportunities to earn big points.

Justin McCareins (NYJ) – McCareins established season highs in Week 7 with six catches for 83 yards at New England. While it’s true that performances like these are what fantasy owners hoped to get from McCareins on a weekly basis, it’s at least encouraging that his yardage totals have increased each week since Week 2 and that his catch total increased for the third straight game. Santana Moss continues to struggle (5 catches, 91 yards the past three weeks) and shows no signs of breaking out of his slump, which sets the table even more for McCareins to produce like expected.

Sliding Back

Isaac Bruce (STL) – After opening the season with four straight 100-yard games, Bruce has had zero such performances the past three weeks and hasn’t hit the end zone since Week 1. Those stats are a bit misleading as Bruce did gain 98 yards at Miami in Week 7, which would equate to about 300 yards at, say, Indianapolis or New Orleans, but it was partially due to WR-mate Torry Holt (1 catch, 4 yards) drawing constant double coverage from the Dolphins. With a bye in Week 8 followed by home games against New England and Seattle before a road tilt at Buffalo, it’s hard to envision Bruce having more than one very good fantasy outing over the next month or so.

Peerless Price (ATL) – Price no longer being a fantasy commodity is still news like Michael Vick isn’t a good fantasy QB is still news. Still, Price remains owned in approximately three of four fantasy leagues despite catching more than two balls once in the past seven weeks and amassing more than 22 yards only twice in that span (with zero TDs on the season). When considering that the Falcons’ next four weeks are at Denver, a bye, home against Tampa Bay and at the Giants, it’s hard to imagine things getting much better, if at all, for the Atlanta passing game in the near future. In short, it’s too late to trade Price for anyone of value, but from a glass-is-half-full perspective, he does represent an open roster spot.

Reggie Wayne/Brandon Stokley (IND) – Fantasy owners counting on either of these guys to provide them with consistent No. 2 WR production may want to re-think that decision. On the season, Wayne has had three stinker games mixed in with three quality fantasy performances, while Stokley has been more consistent from a yardage standpoint but hasn’t scored since week three. This isn’t to knock the duo’s output to date – it was somewhat remarkable up until a week or two ago. It’s just that either one of them represents a 50/50 shot at best on a weekly basis to produce quality fantasy numbers, especially with Marvin Harrison just hitting his stride.